DWade w/ son Zaire at the 2011 All-Star Game
There are a few words that come to mind when I think about the past couple years of my life: challenging, rewarding, transformative—they roll off the tip of my tongue in an instant. In the span of a year my two good friends LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined me on the Miami Heat, I struggled through a painful, public divorce, and I became the full-time parent to my two young sons, Zaire and Zion.
I’ve had some ups and downs lately, but the memories of the unpleasant times disappear quickly, in part because of moments like the one recently when I was able to surprise my younger son, Zion, at his school with cupcakes for his fourth birthday. It was the day after we’d won the Eastern Conference finals, but that victory couldn’t compare with the huge smile on Zion’s face at that moment. I will never forget it. Bad memories vanish each morning when I walk into both of my sons’ bedrooms to wake them up for school—their laughter gives me all I need to face whatever is happening in my life. Not too long ago, due to custody issues, I wasn’t allowed to see my sons for long periods of time, or was given the chance to see them for only a few hours with no idea of if or when I’d see them again. I can’t describe how trying those days were, fighting for full custody while also working as a professional basketball player nine months of the year. I just knew I wanted to be with my kids.
I was seriously motivated to be a full-time parent for my sons. My mother and father weren’t together when I was a kid growing up in Chicago, and early on my mother fell victim to drug abuse. At 9 years old, I moved in with my father because my mother could no longer care for me. Looking back, I now see so many similarities between my own childhood and that of my sons. My father stepped in when I needed him, and that gave me the chance for a better life. That’s what I’m doing for my boys now.